It’s not time for ‘didn’t they do well’ – believe Doncaster Rovers haven’t peaked with a sixth place finish: Liam Hoden
When does being proud of an achievement actually become an underestimation of what is really possible?
Doncaster Rovers deserve plenty of congratulations for their sixth placed finish this season.
But ‘didn’t they do well’ should not be used as a get-out clause for the size of the task in the play-offs.
Not that Grant McCann would even consider making that so. In fact, he seems determined to make sure there is absolutely no contentment with finishing sixth.
It was after Sunday’s first leg against Charlton Athletic that he first mentioned his frustration at receiving pats on the back. And he repeated it again when I met with him earlier this week – as you will read on these pages.
McCann is pleased with finishing in the play-offs but will be disappointed if that is the crowning achievement of Rovers’ season.
And he will feel some frustration if others do not share in his disappointment – rightly so.
Speaking to supporters, finishing sixth was well beyond what was expected by many last summer.
But the fact Rovers have been in and around the top six all season means expectations really should have shifted.
It is not that this campaign should be labelled as a failure if Rovers do not win promotion.
It is that any resignation that they are not going to earn a place in the Championship is unjust – whether it came before the first leg against Charlton, heading into Friday’s second leg or before a potential Wembley final.
Rovers have earned their place at the play-off table and, regardless of how far behind the other guests they finished, they have just as much chance as anyone of coming out on top.
This is not to diminish the size of the task facing them. Charlton are a formidable force on home soil and it would be difficult if Rovers were going in at level pegging.
But it is far from insurmountable.
Reducing the deficit to one goal was a major plus point heading into the second leg. Rovers have a chance now and it is one they are more than capable of taking.
They have produced some superb attacking football this season, flooding forward with numbers and always showing a desire to twist the knife once they have landed the first blow.
Individuals have shone and the collective has been strong. You do not finish sixth in League One without deserving it.
But you prove it by taking on any challenge with the conviction that you belong beyond your station.
No fear, no hesistancy and definitely no resignation.
Come on Rovers.